Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that the humble mercy seeker is exalted. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to make sure that we are humbly seeking God’s mercy and living as those who have received it.
Read Luke 18:9
I. Parable’s Target. In today’s Sunday School material there were some people who were confident in their own righteousness. And some of these people also looked down on everyone else. Jesus shared a parable with them.
- Responding to needs. Notice in vs. 9 that Jesus perceived a need and then shared a parable that He believed would be helpful. In like manner, we should seek the wisdom and courage to share what we believe to be helpful to those we are ministering to.
Those who need comfort should not be presented with doctrine. Those who need doctrine should not be presented with rebuke. And those who need rebuke should not presented with comfort.
Sometimes what people need is not what they want. In fact, it may make them angry. Let’s seek God’s wisdom and courage to share what is needed.
Read Luke 18:10-13
II. Tale of Two Men. In our Sunday School material Jesus describes the prayers of two men. One man, a Pharisee, prays with great confidence in his own righteousness. He even comments on not being like other sinners like the nearby tax collector.
The other man, a tax collector, prays with great humility. He prays for God to have mercy on him, as a sinner.
- Praying. Notice in vs. 10 that the two men in the story went to the Temple to pray. First, it is becoming more and more challenging to get people to come to church. Second, it is even harder to get people to come to church to pray.
Third, it is even more difficult to get men to come to church to pray. Let’s work on being praying people. There is power in prayer. Prayer can change things. But even when it doesn’t, it can change us (if we let it).
- Self-righteousness. Notice in vss. 11-12 of the Sunday School material that the Pharisee prayed a “self-righteous” prayer. First, it was good for him to have avoided the listed sins. It was also good for him to fast, if it was helpful.
Second, the problem with the bad that he avoided and the good that he did was that he did it with the wrong motives. He did it thinking that such things would make him right with God and better than others. Let’s make sure that we avoid wrong doing and do that which is good for the right reasons.
We should strive to obey God, out of gratitude, to be blessed, and to avoid punishment. But we should not strive to obey as the bases of our relationship with God. Without God’s grace, none of us would be right with God.
- Seeking God’s mercy. Notice in vs. 13 that the tax collector is noted for his humble request. In like manner, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners (some saved by grace).
Our requests should be made as an appeal to God’s mercy, not His justice. Justice would have destroyed us a million times by now. But grace and mercy allows us to face another day. Let’s work on humbling seeking God’s mercy.
Read Luke 18:14
III. Lesson in Exaltation. In our Sunday School material Jesus talks about how the tax collector is justified or declared righteous before God. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled. But those who humble themselves will be exalted.
- Justified and exalted. Notice in vs. 14 that the tax collector is justified and exalted. The Pharisee is not justified and is humbled. First, to justify is to declare righteous.
As believers, we are justified by our faith in the righteousness of Jesus being applied to our account. We are not justified by our own good works.
Second, God has a way of turning things around. Those who put themselves up are brought down. And those who humble themselves are lifted up.
Let’s work on humbly living like those who are right with God through Christ. This kind of living should be known for loving God with all that we have and loving others, as we love ourselves.
Conclusion: Let’s work on humbly seeking God’s mercy and living as those who have received it. God has much for those who obey His will.Please click here to let us know, if this has been quality and helpful information for you (i.e., make sure you let us know the name of the article). Feel free to share your questions and comments about the article as well.